Friday, April 22, 2005

No stamp of approval

Lots of feathers were understandably ruffled when Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz Nazri announced that Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia or Bahasa Indonesia were banned in the country. Then a day or so later, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said there was no ban on Bibles in the Malay language – but they must be stamped with the words, "Not for Muslims."

Churches in Malaysia have been exercising self-censorship and add a "Not for Muslims" flasher to advertisements and publicity materials for church events for several years now (although in recent years churches have gotten wiser and are billing their public meetings "A christian event" instead). No one knows why or if there were official instructions, but there is certainly nothing in the constitution that requires churches to do that.

Now the PM is asking for Malay-language Bibles to be stamped "Not for Muslims." That’s progressive Islam for you. It may be PC to declare that Islam means 'peace,' but as a verb, the word itself means 'submission.' Christians in the country will have to pray how best to respond to something that is obviously opposed to the spirit of the gospel. One thing is sure - our space is shrinking. Fast.


MaoBi said...

Actually what churches add is a tag "For non-Muslims only" on printed matter. Printed matter attracts a different postage rate and taxation rate. Why taxation? Because the press laws sometimes required that things be printed outside the country if for nothing other than economic reasons.

Some churches have decided to remove these. I believe certain bulletins are printed as "for members only" as they do not have a publishing permit so they cannot be published publicly.

As for events some churches have already removed the tags going forward. The message of salvation is not just for a small group of people with the composition of the group based on the whim of the person in power.

David BC Tan said...

thanks for the clarification. i think newspaper ads that advertise christian events (rallies, evangelistic meetings, concerts, etc) used to have a "for non-muslims only tag. we don't see that anymore.